Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment in Scotland: interim report

Interim report of the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment in Scotland.

Part 2 – A New Model for Qualifications and Assessment

Draft Qualifications and Assessment Model

Since the first meeting the IRG has been working towards the goal of identifying a new model for Qualifications and Assessment that meets the needs of Scotland's learners in a 21st century Scotland. Phase One and Phase Two have provided the grounding for this third and final phase. At the end of Phase Three, the Review will produce a series of recommendations for the Cabinet Secretary that are pragmatic and are presented in terms of short, medium and longer-term actions.

As noted earlier, we believe that change is essential to avoid learners in Scotland being left behind as other countries adopt new and creative approaches to assessment that are more reflective of the world in which we live. Our proposals will be designed to build on the original aims of CfE and will propose a model of change allowing learners greater freedom to demonstrate a full range of achievements whilst paying attention to teacher workload. We are acutely aware of the stress on young people of high-stakes examinations in schools and the fact that the "two term dash" to most examinations remains an unacceptable reality.

Building on the evidence we have received to date including consultation responses; we believe we are now in a strong position to propose the following as part of a possible new approach. (Please note that any terminology used below is for illustrative purposes only and will be updated on the basis responses and other feedback gathered as part of Phase Three of the Review).

  • Significant reduction in external assessment, including examinations, across the senior phase.
  • A better and more clearly defined integration of academic and vocational qualifications.
  • A broadening of the evidence collected during the Senior Phase including school and college partnerships to include skills and other competencies (see model below). The qualifications could comprise of three elements – subject, personal pathways and learning in context.
  • The development of enhanced digital infrastructure that will enable the use of digital assessments and will also support learners to gather and present their achievements consistently no matter the educational setting within which they are based. A greater focus on digital assessments will reflect learning itself and for many will link better with the reality of the world of work and further study. The creation of a digital profile will help learners reflect on their learning and will help build a culture of learner choice. This aspect of the proposal could be made easier if Scotland had a national digital infrastructure.
  • A Senior Phase Leaving Certificate, including school and college partnerships - Phase Three engagement also builds on the Stobart Report of 2021 by suggesting the creation of a leaving certificate as a means of drawing together more aspects of learning into a single form. We believe this is essential as it will allow a range of forms of learning to be recognised, valued and articulated. This approach will help a learner articulate their own skills and achievements while also allowing the users of qualifications, employers and further and higher education establishments to more easily develop the sense of an individual.

Our aim is to offer an approach that provides a better outcome for all learners. By offering a wider range of ways for learners to demonstrate achievements, providing opportunities for learners to investigate global or local challenges in areas of interest to them, and by reducing the number of high stakes examinations that cause stress to so many. In future, perhaps, introducing a degree of choice in the form of assessment for a qualification.

These are some of the areas we will consider during the consultation in Phase Three. If the idea of a leaving type certificate has broad support then we will begin to consider each aspect of the proposal in greater detail and from there begin to draft the final report.

The final report and recommendations of the Independent Review on the Future of Qualifications and Assessment will be submitted to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills by the end of May 2023.



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